2020 NFL draft: Don't overlook A.J. Dillon, our No. 79 overall prospect

Leading up to the 2020 NFL draft, which starts April 23, Yahoo Sports will count down our top 100 overall prospects. We’ll count them down in groups of five and 10 at a time, followed by in-depth reports on our top 50 players. We reserve the right to make changes to players’ grades and evaluations based on injury updates, pro-day workouts or late-arriving information from NFL teams.

Previous prospect rankings: Nos. 100-91 | 90-8180-71 | 70-66 | 65-61 | 60-56 | 55-51 | 50. DT Justin Madubuike | 49. CB Damon Arnette | 48. OT Ezra Cleveland | 47. WR KJ Hamler | 46. CB A.J. Terrell | 45. RB Cam Akers | 44. DL Ross Blacklock | 43. OT Josh Jones | 42. DT Jordan Elliott | 41. C Cesar Ruiz

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80. Southern Illinois S-LB Jeremy Chinn

6-foot-3, 221 pounds 

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.79

The lowdown: Chinn was an overlooked high-school player because of an injury he suffered his junior year, which affected his recruiting. Indiana spent time recruiting him, but Chinn ended up at SIU, where he became a four-year starter at safety, also spending time as a nickel corner in the slot.

Chinn intercepted three passes or more in all four years of college, finishing his career with 13 picks  in 38 games. He also added 243 tackles (six for losses), 31 passes defended, six forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one blocked field-goal attempt. Chinn was a consensus FCS All-America pick as a senior and fared well at the Senior Bowl.

Obviously, the level of competition is a bit concerning. Chinn didn’t have a lot of opportunities to shine against top competition, but he held his own against a very talented Ole Miss offense (featuring DK Metcalf and A.J. Brown, among others). In that game, Chinn had seven tackles (one for loss and one TD-saving tackle on Brown) and two pass breakups.

Even so, Chinn bit several times on play action in that game his junior year, and it’s something that showed up on tape as a senior, too. Right now, he’s viewed as a highly athletic but untuned prospect who will need time to develop. When he does, however, there could be a terrific payoff.

His outstanding athletic traits were on full display at the NFL scouting combine, where he ran a 4.45-second 40-yard dash (tied for third-best among all safeties this year), vertical jumped 41 inches (tied for eighth-best among all safeties since 2010), broad jumped 11-foot-6 (third-best among all safeties since 1999) and bench-pressed 20 reps (tied for fourth-best among all safeties this year).

What makes him so attractive is that Chinn could develop into the perfect coverage antidote for tight ends, even in man coverage. But he’s still developing instincts in coverage and might have to spend a year or two on special teams while honing those skills. Various injuries also have followed him since high school, so his health and durability must be carefully considered.

By the numbers: Chinn is the Salukis’ all-time program leader in passes defended (31), ranks second in forced fumbles (six) and fifth in interceptions (13).

Interesting fact: Chinn’s uncle is recently elected Pro Football Hall of Famer Steve Atwater, the former Denver Broncos great at safety.

Draft range: Top-75 pick, possibly as early as the top 40

79. Boston College RB A.J. Dillon 

6-foot, 247 pounds 

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.80

The lowdown: The Eagles’ bruising back was a three-year workhorse starter and one of the best runners in college football when healthy. Although power is his calling card, Dillon isn’t just a mass of humanity who rams into the line. He possesses nice vision, strong burst, underrated athleticism and outstanding power and contact balance to shed would-be tacklers.

Opponents knew Dillon was BC’s offense the past three seasons as the team cycled through personnel changes and often struggled to throw the ball consistently. Even with some quality OL talent on the team, Dillon faced many defenses that were geared to slow him down — and he often thrived despite that.

Injuries and a heavy workload are two big concerns for NFL talent evaluators. Dillon suffered a broken leg in high school that wiped out half of his senior season, and he was sidelined for two games in 2018 with an ankle injury. Plus, he amassed 866 touches over three seasons, which suggests that he will enter the NFL with far less tread on his tires than other backs who were used more sparingly.

Another problem is that only 21 of Dillon’s touches came through the air, lacking great hands and route-running feel. Scouts worry that his value will be seriously limited on third downs and that he'll be used on only basic pass routes such as screens and checkdowns. Credit Dillon as a pass protector: He eagerly seeks out work and will throw his big frame around to protect his passers, even if his pass-pro technique needs work (see Clemson and Notre Dame games).

Expect Dillon to immediately upgrade an NFL run game from Jump Street, and the hope is that he can develop as a receiver, much like James Conner and Derrick Henry did.

By the numbers: Dillon had 12 games with 32 or more carries in his 35-game career, with a career-high 40 carries in a loss to Florida State in 2019. And he had only two career contests in which he received fewer than 10 rush attempts. The first was Dillon’s first game at BC, running the ball five times in a win over Northern Illinois in 2017. The second was a six-carry game in 2018 in which Dillon ran for 149 yards and three TDs in a 62-14 win over Holy Cross.

Interesting fact: Dillon’s grandfather, Tom Gatewood, was an All-American football player at Notre Dame, a college football Hall of Famer and the first African-American team captain in ND history, catching passes from Joe Theismann for two seasons with the Irish.

Dillon and Gatewood are close to this day.

“We have a great relationship,” Dillon said at the scouting combine. “He’ll reach out to me before games and things like that, and he has been helping me out throughout this process and just [telling me to stay] true to myself, keeping my head on straight and just respecting everybody you come in contact with and just do your best you can and let the cards fall where they may.

“He has a tremendous legacy, and it’s something I don't like to say [I] live up to, but something that I definitely admire about him. He’s definitely a big role model for me.”

Draft range: Round 4

78. Connecticut OT Matt Peart

6-foot-7, 318 pounds 

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.80

The lowdown: After growing up in Jamaica, Peart went from The Bronx to The Governor’s Academy to play basketball, leaving the New England prep school as a football recruit with intrigue. Putting on more than 40 pounds during his redshirt season at Connecticut in 2015, Peart was moved to offensive tackle where he became a four-year starter.

Peart spent his first two seasons for the Huskies at left tackle and his final two years at right tackle. Despite that extensive college starting experience, NFL scouts say Peart has major untapped potential after being relatively new to the sport and playing shortened, eight-game schedules in high school — with only one year there as a blocker.

With outstanding length (including condor-like 36 5/8-inch arms) and athleticism, Peart is a fascinating prospect. He shuffles his feet easily in pass protection and can lead the way on zone-stretch run plays. Having experience at both OT spots also makes Peart more attractive as a swing-tackle candidate; with 46 active game-day roster spots and NFL teams always in search of quality outside blockers, this versatility can’t go overlooked.

Connecticut OL Matt Peart runs a drill during the NFL Combine. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Peart, who turns 23 in June, still lacks in the strength department — especially in his lower half — and might need a year in an NFL conditioning program to add mass and reach his potential. His 26 bench-press reps at the combine surprised some NFL scouts, especially with Peart’s extremely long wingspan.

There are technical issues in Peart’s blocking that most NFL teams feel are fixable. He can set his hands too wide at times and needs to work on his pass sets, often getting too high in his stance, but neither are considered red flags. Peart also didn’t exactly face a murder’s row of pass rushers last season, although Temple’s Quincy Roche gave Peart some fits. He could stand to add a little meanness to his game, something OL coaches might harp on the more they get involved in the scouting process. 

There’s a lot to like about Peart’s upside, as he projects to be a better player in his second NFL season and beyond with further development as a left or right tackle.

By the numbers: He committed 17 penalties in his final two years in school after committing only five in his first two years combined.

Interesting fact: Peart was a power forward/center in high school and was teammates with current Miami Heat sharpshooter Duncan Robinson for one year.

Draft range: Rounds 2 or 3

77. Louisiana-Lafayette OG Robert Hunt 

6-foot-5, 323 pounds 

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.80

The lowdown: Born Robert Handy-Hunt, the burly offensive lineman has turned himself from an unknown high-school recruit to an NFL prospect over the past few years. Hunt earned second-team all-conference in 2018 after switching from left guard and left tackle to right tackle, where he primarily lined up the past two seasons.

NFL teams had to catch up on Hunt (and teammate Kevin Dotson, a legitimate 2020 mid-round prospect as well and Hunt’s college roommate) as the Ragin’ Cajuns featured a potent rushing attack and creative scheme. What they saw in Hunt: a surprisingly athletic player who seeks to bury opponents lined up opposite him.

Even though Hunt has the measurables and mass to give tackle a try in the NFL, the consensus appears to be that his future in the league begins at guard. There are some technical issues that could plague him as a pass protector, such as rising high in his stance and losing balance and weight transfer in his sets. On top of that, he doesn’t have a lot of pass-rush tests of note on tape, as ULL was a run-heavy operation in his time there.

His character must be considered following a 2017 incident in which Hunt was charged with felony theft, which later was reduced to criminal mischief and dismissed after he completed a diversion program. (Hunt was suspended one game by the team for the incident.) He also was forced to miss the second half of his senior season with a hamstring injury that also kept him out of the Senior Bowl.

Hunt, who turns 24 in August, has a passion for the game and could step in as an immediate tone setter for an NFL rushing attack. Teams such as the Titans, Ravens and 49ers could use a dose of Hunt’s nastiness in their run-heavy approaches while he learns more advanced pass-blocking technique and likely adjusts to life inside, possibly as a right guard.

By the numbers: According to PFF, Hunt’s QB hurries allowed dipped from 14 in 2017 (in 388 pass-block snaps) to seven in 2018 (in 409 pass-block snaps) to a mere one in 2019 (in 196 pass-block snaps).

Interesting fact: Hunt was a 2-star recruit who slipped through the cracks at tiny Burkeville (Texas) High School, which had an enrollment of less than 100 and a football team with only 18 players in Hunt’s senior season. In Hunt’s four years playing for the Mustangs, they won only four games. He committed to Louisiana-Lafayette — his only scholarship offer — and earned a starting job in 2016 after his redshirt season.

Draft range: Rounds 2 or 3

76. South Carolina WR Bryan Edwards 

6-foot-3, 212 pounds 

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.80

The lowdown: Clemson nearly snagged the talented Edwards out of high school, recruiting him as a safety — can you imagine him lining up next to Isaiah Simmons? Instead, Edwards chose to play receiver for the Gamecocks, and he turned in four consistently productive seasons despite occasionally mediocre QB play.

Edwards is a height-weight-speed prospect whose evaluation is clouded because of a broken foot he suffered while training for the scouting combine. He also dealt with a painful knee injury that caused him to miss two games late last season, so Edwards’ durability will be considered carefully. (Edwards also had a knee injury in high school that cut his senior season short.)

He reminds us a bit of a Courtland Sutton clone, maybe a slightly lesser version. (One scout also mentioned N’Keal Harry as a style comp.) Edwards has some unsure hands at times and can struggle to track down jump balls. 

Still, he has good enough footwork and route-running ability to get open and present a quarterback a nice intermediate target. There are times when he’s running free by several yards but didn’t get the ball thrown his way. 

South Carolina WR Bryan Edwards rushes during a game against Kentucky. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Edwards’ frame allows him to work through press coverage and gain good releases off the line, and he plays like a man who wants the ball when games are on the line. Turn on the Alabama tape, and from the first play from scrimmage — Edwards barreling through the Tide’s defense on an end around — and you can feel the passion with which he plays.

With better QB play and other capable pass catchers around him, Edwards (who turns 22 in November) profiles as a solid WR2 or high-end WR3 who can consistently make chain-moving catches. Still, a lot of his production — especially in 2019 — was screen-heavy, so he’ll have to diversify his routes.

By the numbers: Edwards caught at least one pass in each of his 48 career games and caught multiple passes in 46 of those games.

Interesting fact: Edwards also is a talented punt returner, but one of his more embarrassing moments in college football was when Texas A&M punter Braden Mann — a former linebacker, we should note — forced a fumble against Edwards on a return in a 2018 game.

Draft range: The timing of this latest injury couldn’t be much worse, but we’d have a tough time seeing Edwards slip past Round 4 — even in a loaded WR draft. He’s worth a top-100 selection.

75. Utah S-CB Terrell Burgess 

5-foot-11, 202 pounds 

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.80

The lowdown: There might be a question of why Burgess didn’t play more prior to last season, but his 2019 performance had scouts flocking to Salt Lake City last season to see what all the fuss was about. After playing mostly as a defensive reserve his first three seasons with the Utes (three starts), Burgess earned a role as the team’s safety and nickel back last season.

There has been top-100 buzz for Burgess after he turned in a pair of impressive performances in back-to-back games against USC (one of the few Utes on defense to play well that night) and Washington State.

Size is not Burgess’ strong suit, and he had some of the shortest arms of any DB at the 2020 scouting combine. He also has below-average physicality in his play, which should limit his impact up in the box. Burgess also had only limited ball production — one interception and five passes broken up — in 2019.

That said, Burgess is an excellent tackler in space, can handle multiple roles for a defense (deep-halves safety, nickel corner, occasional blitzer) and has a surprisingly good feel for the game for a player who rode the pine so long. His man-coverage ability should guarantee a role as a rookie. 

Burgess reminds us a bit of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Mike Edwards, a 2019 third-round pick.

Burgess’ maturity and smarts likely will serve him well in the NFL.

By the numbers: Burgess lined up all over the place in 2019. According to PFF, he logged time at box safety (285 snaps ), slot corner (272), free safety (133), on the line of scrimmage (67) and as a wide corner (26), as well as on all four special-teams units.

Interesting fact: Burgess’ grandfather is blind, and his sister prompted him to get a Braille tattoo in his honor. Burgess told the terrific story at the combine to Yahoo Sports’ Tank Williams:

Draft range: Top-75 pick

74. Washington TE Hunter Bryant 

6-foot-2, 248 pounds 

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.80

The lowdown: Bryant might have labored through an injury-plagued career with the Huskies, but his toughness and WR-like skills were obvious when he played. Although not blessed with textbook size for the position, likely making Bryant more of an H-back candidate in the NFL, he averaged 16.4 yards per catch and hauled in several eye-opening passes in three seasons before declaring early for the 2020 draft.

Some have compared Bryant to the Giants’ Evan Engram, but he has a little more overlap with the skills of 2019 Minnesota Vikings second-rounder Irv Smith Jr. Bryant has massive mitts (10 3/8-inch hands), good seam-splitting and slot-fade skill, and good yards-after-catch production. All of those were on display in 2019, his one healthy season in school.

Bryant suffered damage to his left ACL and LCL in October 2017, and — while wearing a brace to protect the knee — he suffered a meniscus injury on the same knee during spring practice in April 2018 that required surgery. That limited Bryant to five games as a sophomore in 2018, but he averaged 21.6 yards per catch and made a circus grab in the Rose Bowl against Ohio State.

Expect Bryant to factor in as a “big slot” receiver in the NFL, as his limited blocking prowess (especially in pass protection) won’t work consistently in the league. His durability also will be extensively vetted by teams, and it’s sure to hurt his stock.

But in a league where offenses are trying to gain mismatches in the passing game any way they can, Bryant’s unique skills will be valued. He can outrun linebackers vertically and beat press against corners, even if he’s not as fluid or quick laterally and not a nuanced route runner yet.

By the numbers: Even with the injuries and leaving school early, Bryant ranks No. 2 all time in Washington school history in receiving yards by a tight end with 1,394. 

Interesting fact: Bryant, who will turn 22 in August, told The Athletic that he lacked a “healthy family dynamic” growing up, prompting him to move out of his family’s house at age 18 and move in with a family friend who lived close to an athletic facility where he liked to train for football prior to attending Washington.

Draft range: Rounds 2 or 3

73. Georgia OT Isaiah Wilson 

6-foot-6, 350 pounds 

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.81

The lowdown: Some NFL scouts secretly wished Wilson would have stayed in school for his final season, believing he had first-round potential in 2021 with another year of improvement. They’re still very much interested, even if the first round feels like a reach this year.

Wilson is a massive-framed right tackle with surprising athleticism. How surprising? As a high-school player — and yes, he weighed 350 then, too — Wilson ran “wildcat” QB plays at Poly Prep Country Day in Brooklyn. This is something to behold:

Wilson’s athleticism showed up as a blocker at Georgia, too, in 25 games as the Bulldogs’ right tackle. (He missed time this past season with an ankle injury.) 

Wilson doesn’t appear to harness his raw power as well as he should, likely because of a narrow base, bending too much at the waist and letting defenders get into his chest. He also struggles to counter on inside moves and stunts, lacking the lateral quickness and reaction skills to handle that in the NFL. It’s easy to appreciate his natural skills and upside, but he needs a lot of work.

Still, Wilson showcases his dominant traits when he plays more defensively and fires off the ball. This makes him a good run-blocking candidate and perhaps more effective as a pass blocker in more of a quick-rhythm passing game. That’s when his rare mass, exceptional reach and sufficient movement serve him best.

Wilson would be best-served to take a “redshirt” year in the NFL, much like he did his first season on campus in Athens. If he’s pressed into immediate duty and asked to single-block top-tier pass rushers, it could be a trial by fire. With as much help as the Bulldogs gave him last season, it’s clear he has yet to reach his ceiling.

By the numbers: Wilson registered a respectable 40-yard dash time at the combine at 5.32 seconds, turned in a very strong vertical jump (29 inches), and his 26 bench-press reps — with 35 1/2-inch arms — were impressive. But Wilson’s 3-cone drill time of 8.26 seconds and short-shuttle time of 5.07 seconds were in the bottom 10th percentile for offensive tackles the past 20-plus years.

Interesting fact: New York Magazine has an annual feature called “Reasons to Love New York,” and Wilson made its 2016 edition at No. 37, subtitled “Because the No. 2 College-Football Recruit in the Country Is From Canarsie and Wears a SpongeBob Backpack.”

Wilson is a huge Spongebob Squarepants fan, and the high school version of him described in the story as having “a quiet demeanor and the floppy handshake of a mathlete.”

Draft range: Rounds 2 or 3

72. California S Ashtyn Davis 

6-foot-1, 202 pounds 

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.81

The lowdown: Davis’ journey from track star to football walk-on to NFL prospect is a fun one to dive into. He earned his way up the football depth chart, rising first as the Bears’ special teams player of the year as a freshman and sophomore. He saw time at cornerback before shifting full time to safety, where he earned second-team all-Pac-12 last season.

That’s likely where he’ll line up in the NFL, although scouts were asking to see Davis take cornerback reps at the Senior Bowl. Unfortunately, the groin injury Davis suffered prior to Cal’s bowl game was red-flagged in Mobile, preventing him from working out there or at the scouting combine.

When healthy, Davis is rangy, smart and active. He can turn into a ballhawk in the NFL in time. His interception against Oregon’s Justin Herbert this season was a masterclass in baiting a quarterback and pouncing on a passer who typically is risk-averse (this pick ended a 174-pass streak without an INT for Herbert):

What separates Davis from other safeties in the class — save for perhaps LSU’s Grant Delpit — is his exceptional range. He can patrol the deep middle as a single-high safety and still find ways to make plays sideline to sideline. Davis is still refining his instincts and learning to trust what he sees, so that speed can be even more enhanced in time.

Davis overcame some early-season tackling woes and reeled in his aggressiveness down the stretch, seeming to grow under the eye of Cal DBs coach Gerald Alexander, a former NFL defensive back. There’s plenty to like about Davis’ potential, even though he can be manipulated by talented quarterbacks, likely can’t make a living in the box and can get taken out of plays by blockers easier than we’d like to see.

By the numbers: Davis also has great potential as a kick returner, running back 71 kicks in his four seasons for 1,621 yards (22.8-yard average) and an 89-yard TD in 2018. He also was tried on two punt returns in 2019, averaging 16.5 yards.

Interesting fact: Davis’ track accomplishments are impressive, too, winning the 2017 Pac-12 110-meter hurdles and finishing third in the 2018 outdoor nationals in the 60-meter hurdles.

Draft range: Top-75 pick, assuming his injury is not worse than believed.

71. Boise State EDGE Curtis Weaver 

6-foot-2, 265 pounds 

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.82

The lowdown: With 34 sacks in three seasons — and 10 or more in each year with the Broncos — Weaver is among the top college sack artists in recent years. Even with a shorter, squattier frame and less-than-ideal athleticism, Weaver consistently found his way to the quarterback. 

Power is a big part of Weaver’s game, as he can bore through bigger tackles, hand-fight with almost any blocker and leverage his way into the backfield. His heavy and skilled hands are an advanced part of his game and a big reason why he’s had so much success.

Weaver remains a challenging evaluation for scouts, as his traits do not fit the typically successful pass rusher in the league. There are exceptions to every rule, but his below-average explosion (in combine testing), middling short-area quickness and lack of length will work against him. There are some similarities in his game to the Ravens’ Matthew Judon, but Judon didn't reach his peak as as a defender until Year 4 — and could be traded this offseason.

Boise State EDGE Curtis Weaver's college production was tremendous. (Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images)

Can Weaver diversify his game as a stand-up rusher? Don’t rule it out. But Weaver, who turns 22 in August, battled weight issues early in his career, isn’t terribly natural in coverage and has work to do in his run stopping. And the difference in competition level between Mountain West offensive tackles and the ones he’ll face in the NFL is cavernous.

By the numbers: Following a two-sack debut as a freshman in the 2017 opener against Troy, Weaver went the next two games (against Washington State and New Mexico) without a sack. In his final 37 games, Weaver never went more than one game without at least half a sack.

Interesting fact: Weaver’s mother wanted him to wear No. 56 because she’s a fan of Lawrence Taylor. But Weaver chose 99 — he’s a J.J. Watt and Aaron Donald fan.

Draft range: Top-75 pick

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